Will DOI Take Placard Abuse Seriously — Or Just Keep Abusing Placards?

This is the note that Deputy Inspector Raymond Festino left on an illegally parked state car. Photo: @placardabuse
This is the note that Deputy Inspector Raymond Festino left on an illegally parked state car. Photo: @placardabuse

Hey, those are our illegal parking places, not yours!

Placard abuse is so bad in Lower Manhattan that an official with the agency in charge of busting illegal placard parkers is demanding that other illegally parked officials stop parking in his illegal parking spot.

Deputy Inspector Raymond Festino of the Department of Investigation — the agency that has in the past cracked down on placard abuse — slipped the following letter on a car illegally parked on Liberty Street near the DOI’s headquarters: “THESE SPOTS ARE DESIGNATED FOR DEPT OF INVESTIGATION/NYPD EXECUTIVE PERSONEL [sic] ONLY. PLEASE REFRAIN FROM PARKING HERE IN THE FUTURE.” He signed it, “D.I. RAYMOND FESTINO, NYPD/DEPT OF INVESTION [sic] SQUAD.”

The note was left on a car with an official-looking placard issued by the “New York State Attorney General (Police),” which does exist as part of the office currently overseen by Attorney General Letitia James, the former City Council member, Public Advocate and, yes, placard abusing pol.

The note was first reported on the Twitter account @placardabuse.

The car with the Attorney General placard was parked in a “No stopping” zone. According to section 219-29 of the NYPD patrol guide [PDF], it is never legal for a placard possessor to park in a no-stopping zone. So Festino’s note can only be seen as one officer calling on another officer to stop parking illegally so that another officer can illegally park.

Streetsblog has been in touch with the Department of Investigation in hopes of interviewing new Commissioner Margaret Garnett over her plans to crack down on placard abuse in the city. That interview is pending. In the meantime, we reached out to DOI this week to ask Festino’s letter and its implications. Here is what DOI spokeswoman Diane Struzzi told us:

DOI has remained committed to rooting out fraudulent parking placards in this city. In 2017, our investigation with NYPD and DOT resulted in the arrest of 30 individuals for placard abuse and a public report about that investigation (PDF). This continues to be an area of concern for DOI and we will have more to say on this issue in the coming months.

Regarding your specific inquiry regarding the tweeted photos that are across the street from DOI headquarters and request that those spots be left for DOI/NYPD personnel: Those spaces are needed by DOI so NYPD detectives, who are working active investigations with DOI, have quick access to their police vehicles in case of emergency and during the times when they are transporting complainants, witnesses, and individuals who are in custody. It is not safe for New Yorkers, nor is it a law enforcement best practice, to escort an in-custody person through the streets.

(The investigation that Struzzi mentioned was covered by Streetsblog in 2017. The 30 arrests were seen as a tiny number given that there are 160,000 city-issued placards, plus unreported tens of thousands of state and federal placards — plus untold numbers of counterfeits. A true crackdown on placard abuse is difficult, given that members of the agencies that would be in charge of the crackdown — the NYPD, the State Police, the DOT, and others — are the biggest beneficiaries of placard parking privileges.)

Streetsblog asked Struzzi why the agency had not asked the Department of Transportation to install signs — as it has at many other agencies and near schools — designating the area as parking for DOI employees only rather than as a no-stopping zone. Struzzi said:

DOI is in the process of moving to another location in the area, so it wouldn’t be cost-effective to change those signs at this time. In the meantime, those spaces are used by DOI or NYPD when safety and law enforcement concerns warrant their use.

Struzzi did not say anything about Festino, but subscribers to the @placardabuse Twitter stream quickly ID’d him as a cop with ties to placard-waving former State Senator Marty Golden.

  • Dolph Sweetness

    Mayor please keep putting your head in the sand. Ostriches be proud!

  • LOL @ placards. You don’t even need a placard. Anything with NYPD scrawled on it, like a t-shirt or fucking tea towel. One of these days I’m going to say ‘fuck it’, buy me a souvenir t-shirt from Times Square, and help myself to some free fucking parking all over the city. You just need a huge sense of entitlement and to not give a fuck about anyone else, or rules, or law and order and shit.

    If anyone doesn’t believe me, go right now and check out that green stripe painted along 12th street between Broadway and University. It is like the goddamn hall of fame of placard abuse.

  • William Lawson

    “Those spaces are needed by DOI so NYPD detectives, who are working active investigations with DOI, have quick access to their police vehicles in case of emergency”

    Why, I believe if that were true, then the spots in question would have been designated official NYPD parking long ago instead of the No Stopping zone that it continues to be for a reason. I’m sorry but this is just the sadly inevitable “we’re cops, so we can just break the rules whenever we like and say it’s necessary” bullshit that is encrusted upon NYPD minds like a layer of barnacles.

  • Reader

    Sometimes I like to imagine what might happen if we had a mayor.

  • Joe R.

    And a governor. For a long time I thought the combination of Mario Cuomo and David Dinkins was the low point as far as governor/mayor in my lifetime. DeBlasio is definitely worse than Dinkins. At least Dinkins got voted out after one term. Andrew Cuomo is probably in a tie with his father at this point but he still has time to get in the lead.

  • Daniel

    Doesn’t this feel like something that could be addressed with a simple change to the system?Simply make it legal for anyone to file a parking or moving ticket with appropriate evidence and give the filer 50% of the take as long as they aren’t city officials. Make sure the evidence can all be collected by a mobile app and submitted to an API.

  • “FYI”
    “Please refrain”
    “thank you”

    What a whiny passive aggressive little bitch.

  • Urbanely

    I like that idea but actually wouldn’t exempt City officials from being able to collect the fee. Part of the problem is that too many of them turn a blind eye to the misconduct of their colleagues. Maybe your plan would incentivize them to be a part of the solution.

  • DoctorMemory

    ^^^ This. Oh my god this. The status quo will never improve until parking/curb enforcement is wrestled out of the hands of the NYPD. Make an app that takes photos, make it available for download, pay a nominal fee per sustained ticket and then let every college student and retiree in the city take care of the rest.

  • Crosby

    This is the best idea I’ve heard in a while. But knowing DeBlasio, he would insist that the proceeds be used to provide counseling for the cops who are now experiencing PTSD because they have to find and pay for parking like the rest of us suckers.

  • Crosby

    He has signed a law that allows abortions up to the minute of birth, a.k.a. partial birth abortions, so he is worse than all of them combined.

  • Linda

    LOL, amateurs compared to the 70th in Brooklyn, take up both sides of street sidewalks in front of a center that cares for people mostly kids with Multiple Sclerosis and block every fire hydrant for blocks, dangerous.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

NYPD Opposes Bill to Curb Placard Abuse as Total Soars to 118,000

|
At a City Council Transportation Committee hearing today, the New York Police Department announced its opposition to legislation that would curb parking placard abuse by requiring barcodes on official placards. NYPD claimed that it has placard abuse under control and that only Police Commissioner Ray Kelly should have the power to determine what tools are […]

Bill Bratton Rolls Back Internal NYPD Parking Reform

|
On Monday the Times published an in-depth piece on how Police Commissioner Bill Bratton is aiming to boost NYPD morale, in part by giving officers more latitude to skirt departmental rules. The Times said such infractions might include “misplacing a memo book or being late for court.” According to the story, Bratton is also lightening up […]